Melissa Miller is an interdisciplinary artist, writer and curator. Her current project, The Chinasty Foundation, which parodies Donald Judd’s Chinati foundation by turning Minimalist superstars into female exotic dancers, was recently reviewed in Hyperallergic. Melissa’s M.A. thesis, The Possible @ BAM/PFA: The Artist and the Museum in the Experience Society, continues the critique of the contemporary art museum explored in her visual work. Through a materialist analysis of The Possible, a 2014 exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, her thesis examines how The Possible demonstrates the ways in which changes in wider consumer culture have impacted artistic production and dissemination, including museum programming.
Melissa received her BFA in Printmaking from the University of Oregon’s Robert D. Clark Honors College with a minor in Art History in 2011. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Studio Art and MA in Visual and Critical Studies at California College of the Arts. During the summer of 2013, Melissa studied in Marfa, TX under the Dutch social-practice initiative TAAK. Recent exhibitions include 100 Performances for the Hole at SOMArts, Full Disclosure at Adobe Books Backroom Gallery, More than One Way at Southern Exposure and Make Things (Happen) at Interface Gallery.
Melissa is the co-founder of SFiCA, a collaborative curatorial experiment between the graduate students of California College of the Arts and the San Francisco Art Institute. She recently curated That Didn’t Work for the collective doubleBread as well as Hybrid, Glitch, and The Pasta Bowl for SFiCA. Her writing has been published in Art Practical, Daily Serving, and Carets & Sticks.
The Possible @ BAM/PFA: Artistic Production and Museum Programming in the Experience Society
Much work has been done to critique the 20th century museum for being embedded in capitalism. In the current moment, museums are re-imagining themselves as participatory, experiential, and democratic. Although these changes seem to suggest museums are productively responding to the charges leveraged against the institution in the past, new museum programming maintains the same reliance on the major values of Western capitalist societies. Instead, these new models reflect changes in wider consumer culture or the “Experience Society,” in which products have been replaced by experience as the most valuable commodities.
Through a materialist analysis of The Possible, a 2014 exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, this talk examines how The Possible demonstrates the ways in which changes in wider consumer culture have impacted artistic production and dissemination, including museum programming. I question the complex veiling of authorship established by the structure of The Possible and the labor systems the exhibition’s framing sets up. I argue that although The Possible seemed to embody utopian and collective themes through its name and structure, the total aestheticization of the exhibition replaced the political potential of collaboration with a commodified image of community.